Not only is Virunga National Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and deservedly so), it’s also one of the most bewitchingly beautiful national parks on the continent, home to snow-capped mountains and glistening glaciers, active volcanoes and endless jungles. And now, there’s another reason to visit; Mikeno Lodge, a rather luxurious hideaway in the grounds of the park’s headquarters. 12 Congolese-chic (trust us – it’s a thing!) bungalows boast ensuite bathrooms, hot water and epic fireplaces to fight off the ubiquitous mists and a terrific team of staff who will do just about anything to make your stay as unforgettable as it should be.
At the lodge
Tucked into the densely forested hillside and sheltered by swaying trees and long-fingered vines, the main lounge and dining areas at Mikeno are really rather comfortable. Inside, you’ll find a good bar and a roaring fire to keep things snug whilst outside a stilted wooden deck offers up breath-taking views across the jungle-scapes to the Nyiragongo and Mikeno volcanoes. Depending on the ferocity of the chilly mists, meals can be taken inside under the thatch or outside under the stars.
Fashioned from local lava stone, wood and thatch, the 12 eco-chic bungalows are big enough to house an entire gorilla family and come complete with outside terraces, mini-sitting areas and sizeable beds. Soft tones, sleek furniture and large glass windows keep things light and bright during the day and the log fire is a welcome addition in the evening. Ensuite bathrooms are just as spacious and you can choose between an enormous stone tub or vast shower to wash off the day’s dust.
Gorilla treks are one of the main activities and they are, of course, superb in every way. The departure point for most treks is from Bukima Camp (about an hour’s drive away) and all depart bright and early in the morning. But there’s plenty more on offer too; tours of the gorilla orphanage, park headquarters and anti-poaching units can be arranged, as can chimpanzee treks and hikes to the top of the magnificent Nyiragongo Volcano. And if you feel like some timeout? Grab a pair of binos and watch the birds flit past and the monkeys play in the trees.